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Panama Canal Expansion on Schedule

By Will Irvine

The ACP indicates that so far all the work for the Third Set of Locks is on schedule.  The ACP has already adjudicated 97% of the contracts related to the Panama Canal Expansion through the building of a third set of locks.  One of the biggest contracts was adjudicated to Grupo Unido Por el Canal (Group UPC) who has from the date of adjudication 1,883 days to

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deliver the project or October 21, 2014 until midnight. If they are able to deliver early then GUPC will receive a $250 thousand bonus per day up to $50 million.  If they go over the deadline it costs GUPC $300 thousand per day until completion.

GUPC has already begun to work and are presently carrying out the relocation of the animal population in the Atlantic side so they can begin to cut down trees and finish clearing the work area.  The field work for the expansion contract being carried out by GUPC will be done by Panamanian labor however the administrative staff required by GUPC to run operations is projected to be 50% Panamanian and 50% foreign.  Among this administrative staff are included engineers, architects, accountants, IT personnel, among others.  

The design team for the Canal Expansion, Montgomery, Watson, Harza, IV-Groep & Tetra Tech is mostly composed of Americans however there are Dutch and other nationalities in the team as well.  The expansion has already created 3,199 jobs and is expected to create approximately 8,000 more jobs.

The year 2011 will be a critical year for this project led by GUPC as in 2011 the cement works start and experts in the construction industry indicate that the cement making, transport and pouring takes very strict and efficient logistic network as any mistake here will have consequences in terms of time.  The cement being used is a special cement that dries quicker than normal but has the same characteristics as the standard cement.  No details have been issued by GUPC as to the logistics and distribution phase however the ACP has indicated that there is nothing to worry about and that most of the cement mixing and transport will be done at the actual work site and not in outside factories.

The ACP is also being careful and has destined a budget of $160 million to cover increases in material costs and fuel costs.


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